Seventeen-year-old education activist and Pakistani native Malala Yousafzai says now is not the right time for anti-government protests in her home country, adding that the current government should be allowed to complete a five-year term to accomplish its big goals.
“I think all campaigns and protests should also be peaceful,” she said. “Not violent protests that could lead to the killing of hundreds of people. I do not support any kind of violent protests. I’m hopeful nothing bad will happen.”
Malala is in the United States for interviews about her campaign for universal education and the publication of a middle school version of her best-selling memoir, “I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Changed the World.” Her public activism almost cost her life in 2012 when a Taliban gunman boarded her school bus in the Swat region and shot her in the head. She recovered in Britain, but continues to live abroad for fear of further attacks if she returns.
This week, thousands of protesters pushed through barriers with wire cutters and cranes to march on the capital’s “red zone” which houses parliament and other key government buildings. The demonstrators, led by Imran Khan and Muslim cleric Tahir ul Qadri, have been rallying for days demanding the resignation of prime minister Nawaz Sharif over alleged voting fraud. Sharif has refused to step down, while the country’s powerful army has called for a negotiated settlement.
During an interview with Hari Sreenivasan of the PBS NewsHour Weekend, the World Children’s Prize winner explained how “the passion and the enthusiasm” of the Pakistani people give her hope.
“When the youth continue the struggle and when the people continue the struggle and continue their contribution to society, Pakistan will have a bright future. But we do need some changes,” she said.
“We need to have a strong judicial system, strong government, strong democracy and strong media.”